Swimming safety: some starting kids in the pool as infants - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Swimming safety: some starting kids in the pool as infants

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PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

The recent drowning of Olympian Bode Miller's 19-month-old daughter has raised a lot of concern about child drownings.

Some parents may actually want to keep their kids away from the water, but that's not what many experts advise.

They say the sooner your children are in the water, the better.

In fact, infants can actually benefit from getting comfortable in water.

"I always recommend that parents start their kids out as early as possible," said Emma Tappe, a swim instructor and lifeguard at RiverPlex in Peoria. "We can just build on that natural instinct and get them as far as we possibly can before it becomes scary and something of a fear stage."

One of Tappe's classes actually allows infants to become comfortable in the water.

Believe it or not, they can start just a few months out of the womb.

Tappe said that is important because they may need to be able to act on a survival instinct.

"We can teach kids how to swim and that's what I always tell parents," said Tappe, who added, "take away that second scariest, most-deadly thing for your kids and teach them how to swim because it could end up saving their life."

And some adults agree.

"I think it's important they all learn to swim because I didn't learn to swim until i was older then I was afraid," said Lilly Dorsey, who's young Granddaughter has been learning to swim.

Dorsey said she wouldn't want her around water without learning how to swim.

"It just makes it safer," said Dorsey, adding "it's good for all children to learn summer safety; not just the pool, but rivers, or creeks or ponds."

That's why many experts believe in starting children out at a young age.

Still, there's quite a bit of responsibility on you, the parent or guardian.

"If we're scared of the water, they're going to be scared of the water too," added Tappe, who said, "if they're put in the water, then they're going to panic and that's what's going to cause them to drown even faster than they would normally."

It's important to remember that as your children ... at that young of an age [they] are getting used to the water,"said Tappe. "You need to be there for them, watching them very closely to of course protect them and comfort them."

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